100-Word Fiction: ‘Fare Thee Well Pete Seeger’

I would like to write about Pete Seeger, but MWB’s done it so eloquently and elegantly that I have nothing to add.

MW Bewick

How to succeed as a musician? You play well but are modest about your talent. You sing strong without the need for any tuneless holler. You write about big things with words all folks can understand. You don’t avoid conclusions though you know some matters are contradictory at times. You respect what was, come to terms with what is and hold hope for the future. You love people even though sometimes they don’t seem worth much loving. You take all this and put it in your songs. You make the world a better place even though you’re gone. Thank you.

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Oscar predictions, and several shameless plugs

Daniel Day Lewis
Who, me?

I’ve left it very late to make my Oscar predictions for this year, but since I will be staying up all night tomorrow blogging the ceremony for Mostly Film, I need to have a stake in the winners to keep me interested when energy levels start to flag. I scored a 50% hit rate last year, so beating that is the target for 2013. As always, I have seen fewer than half of the films in contention but I’m not going to let that stop me making wild assertions about them all. Let’s dive in!

Best Picture

Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

I tried to go and see Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty, but in the end my entire lack of interest in them both prevented me. I was warned off Les Misérables; I missed the free members’ screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild at the Ritzy and was too cross to go back and pay to see it, and the poster for Django Unchained made me feel so weary that I decided not to bother with the film. So I am uniquely unqualified to make a prediction this year, except that I have seen Lincoln and Argo, which I think are the main contenders. I didn’t love either of them and they both have bad endings, but Argo’s ending was worse, so I’m going for Lincoln (which also has a good ending, but as always with Spielberg, it’s not at the end of the film).

Best Actor

Nominees: Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix, Denzel Washington

We don’t need to debate this, do we? Of course it will be Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Actress 

Nominees: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhané Wallis, Naomi Watts

I think this is a wide-open category this year, and the best-known name on the list, Naomi Watts, is probably the least likely to take it. I’d love them to give it to Emmanuelle Riva on what will be her 86th birthday, especially as the prize will be presented by last year’s best actor, Jean Dujardin, but I have a sneaking feeling that it will go to Jessica Chastain.

Supporting Actor

Nominees: Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz

I am still not really sure why PSH is nominated in this category rather than for Best Actor, when he has nearly as much to do in The Master as Joaquin Phoenix. It’s a mesmerising performance and I’d love him to win, but Tommy Lee Jones pretty much steals the show in Lincoln, and gets the film’s big emotional scene to boot, and I think the Academy will give him the gong.

Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, Jacki Weaver

This should absolutely one hundred per cent be nailed on for Amy Adams, who ties The Master together in a way that is both understated and spectacular, but for reasons which escape me, unless it is because she bravely shaved her head for the role (that is probably the reason, in fact) this one is certainly going to Anne Hathaway.


Nominees: Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell

Again, I haven’t seen enough of the films to make a properly educated guess, but the further away I get from it the more impressed I am by Lincoln (if you ignore the ending), and I think Spielberg should get this one.

Animated Feature Film

Nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

I’d love them to give this to Wreck-It Ralph, but I feel like it’s too straightforwardly fun to win, so I think they’ll give it to Brave.

Animated Short

Nominees: Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”, Paperman

This is one of the categories in which I traditionally close my eyes and stab a finger at the screen, but this year the knowledgeable folk over at Mostly Film have previewed the short film categories, so I can steal their prediction of Paperman.


Nominees: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

I can’t see this going to anything other than Life of Pi.

Costume Design

Nominees: Anna Karenina, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman

I think this is between Les Mis and Anna Karenina, but since The Glums has chances elsewhere I’m going to plump for Anna Karenina.

Documentary Feature

Nominees: 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Searching for Sugar Man

Yeah, I haven’t seen any of these, so I’ll go with the bookies and predict a win for Searching for Sugar Man.

Documentary Short

Nominees: Inocente, Kings Point, Mondays at Racine, Open Heart, Redemption

…and I haven’t even heard of any of these, so I’ll do the same again and go for Open Heart.

Film Editing

Nominees: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

This is a tough one! I think Lincoln is beautifully put together, except for that flabby ending, but I think they’re going to want to give Argo a prize, and this seems a likely contender.

Foreign Language Film

Nominees: Amour, Kon-Tiki, No, A Royal Affair, War Witch

With Amour also nominated in the Best Picture category, logically it can’t lose in this one.


Nominees: Hitchcock, The Hobbit, Les Misérables

That’s a weird little group of movies to be nominated in the same category, isn’t it? I think they’ll give it to The Hobbit.

Original Score

Nominees: Anna Karenina, Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall

Can they give Original Score and Original Song to different films? Apart from the theme song Skyfall is kind of boring, musically, so I’m going for Life of Pi.

Original Song

Nominees: Before My Time from Chasing Ice, Everybody Needs a Friend from Ted, Pi’s Lullaby from Life of Pi, Skyfall from Skyfall, Suddenly from Les Misérables

It’s gotta be Skyfall, doesn’t it? <Spends rest of evening singing Skyfall>

Production Design

Nominees: Anna Karenina, The Hobbit, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln

Earlier this year I had to get someone to explain the difference between Cinematography and Production Design to me. I think I understand what they both are now, and if I’m right then I think this might go to Les Misérables.

Live Action Short

Nominees: Asad, Buzkashi Boys, Curfew, Death of a Shadow, Henry

Following Mostly Film’s lead once more, I’ll go with Buzkashi Boys.

Sound Editing

Nominees: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty

I still don’t know the difference between sound editing and sound mixing – perhaps finding out will be my mission ahead of the 2014 Oscars. Zero Dark Thirty has the shortest odds, which sounds good to me.

Sound Mixing

Nominees: Argo, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Skyfall

On the basis that it will win for something other than the song, Skyfall.

Visual Effects

Nominees: The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Marvel’s The Avengers, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman

I’d like this to go to Snow White and the Huntsman, because when someone you know has their work nominated for an Oscar you can’t help hoping they win, but I think they’ll give this to Life of Pi.

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook

Because it has more talking in it than the others, and because it has two good jokes and some great Hollywood-set scenes, I think this will go to Argo.

Original Screenplay

Nominees: Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty

If they want to give each of the films nominated in Best Picture a nod, the obvious candidate for this one is Django Unchained. I haven’t seen it, but I get the impression it’s that same film Quentin Tarantino always makes, in which case it’s as good a choice as any.

So there you have it. Join me and my fellow hardy bloggers over at Mostly Film from around 11pm tomorrow for live updates from the red carpet and beyond. Now excuse me while I go and store up some sleep.

The cutest animal in the world

From LiveScience, via Animal Planet and Popbitch, comes a list – two years old, but I’ve never seen it before – of the 500 cutest animals in the world. Five hundred! I am not fully on board with all of their choices (the frilled neck lizard? Really?), but I can’t find it in myself to disagree with the winner, despite having never heard of it before today. I give you the North Pacific sea otter:

sea otter

sea otter
I don’t know if they always wave. They are waving in most of the pictures on the internet.

If you’re not convinced, here’s the killer – they sleep holding hands, so they don’t float apart:

sleeping sea otters


Update: After I posted this on Facebook, my friend Rachel pointed me towards this video, which I guarantee will make you smile, even if you have seen it before, which I hadn’t:

A pause

There’s no advent song today. I had one ready, but I find that in the wake of yesterday’s horrific news from Connecticut I am not in the right frame of mind to write a jolly Christmas post. I know that countless children die every day in eminently preventable ways, but while the path to preventing war and famine is a complex one, the path to gun control is an clear and simple one, and everyone in the US who has turned down the chance to take it is complicit in these murders, and in all those that will follow until something changes.

Most of the media coverage has been horrible, but here’s a good, non-partisan article on gun control from The Slate, if you’re interested.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Advent song for December 8: Florile Dalbe, Romania

All I have been able to discover about Florile Dalbe (“White flowers”, or more poetically “Flowers of frost”) is that it is a traditional Romanian Christmas song. The internet offers some schmaltzy instrumental settings, some easy listening-style singers doing Ronan Keatingesque versions, some non-Romanian choirs doing fancy schmancy versions, and lots of amateur performances by school choirs and family groups. The one I’ve chosen is from the last category because it sounds so much nicer with a single acoustic guitar than with a stage full of plugged-in instruments. Um, it does sort of start with a close-up shot of the guitarist’s bottom, but I promise it improves after that.

Someone has made a game attempt at some English-language lyrics here, but I suspect it loses something in translation. Or, I don’t know, maybe dropping crockery is a Romanian Christmas tradition. I shall have to visit and find out.

Wednesday Week

Today I would like you to go and read Wednesday Week, my friend Sweeney’s blog. He is the funniest writer I know, which is why I have enlisted him to help me with my Super Secret Project. We have been working on the Super Secret Project for quite a long time, but that’s OK because neither of us is the dynamic go-getter type, really. We’ll finish it one day, and then – well, then we’ll probably leave it sitting in a metaphorical drawer for six months.

Anyway, Wednesday Week is quietly brilliant, just like its author. Start at the beginning and read it all, it’s worth it.

The worm that turned

Out running this morning, I noticed a worm apparently stranded on the pavement, which was wet overnight but had dried out in the morning sun. The first time I went past him, I swerved to avoid him. The second time I thought, he’s going to dry out if he stays there – so I very gently picked him up with a twig and moved him to the grass at the side of the road.

The third time, he was determinedly making his way back to where he’d started. Here he is on my fourth pass, almost back in the middle of the pavement:

a wom

He clearly knew exactly what he was doing, and I had interrupted and made him have to start all over again. I felt a bit embarrassed.